Translation Fellows

Each year, the Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellowship selects a group of emerging translators who are versed in Yiddish language and culture.

2019 Translation Fellows:

Writer and performer Caraid O'Brien first began learning Yiddish as a Yiddish Book Center intern in 1994.  She received three new play commissions from the Foundation for Jewish Culture for her translations of classic Yiddish plays, available on Amazon.  Most recently, she translated the memoirs of Klara Klebanova, a Russian-Jewish revolutionary maximalist.  Caraid’s book Seymour and Miriam: Yiddish Theater and Radio in the 20th Century is forthcoming from Harvard Judaica.  For ten years, she studied Yiddish theater and performance with Luba Kadison Buloff, the last surviving member of the Vilna Troupe. Caraid is translating Sholem Asch: Plays of My People, a collection of four dramas that explore Jewish identity from the acclaimed playwright of “God of Vengeance.”  

Matthew Brittingham is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University and a Fellow at Emory's Tam Institute for Jewish Studies. Matthew researches popular-level religious discourses in American Yiddish print culture (1880s-1930s). He also writes more broadly about Jews and American popular culture, modern evangelicalism, literature about the Holocaust, and antisemitism in America. Brittingham will be translating Di fraydenker (The Freethinkers), a novel by Yiddish humorist A.D. Oguz that was serialized in Der morgen zhurnal in 1922.

Miranda Cooper is a New York-based writer, editor, and literary translator. Her literary and cultural criticism has been published by Tablet Magazine, the JTA, Jewish Currents, the Jewish Book Council, the Yiddish Book Center, Hey Alma, and Jewcy. Her Yiddish poetry translations have appeared in Pakn Treger, in a print anthology published by the Yiddish Book Center, and in Jewish Currents. She currently serves as an editor of In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies. Miranda is translating a selection of short stories by Sarah Hamer-Jacklin, a lesser-known American and Canadian Yiddish fiction writer.

Maia Evrona is a poet, memoirist, essayist, and translator. Her poetry has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright Scholar Program and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. She previously received a translation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for her translations of Avrom Sutzkever, and her translations of a variety of Yiddish poets have been widely published. She has been cited as a representative of “a new generation of Yiddish poet-translators” by Smith College professor Justin Cammy. For her translation project, she will be compiling a selected edition of poems by the Soviet and Israeli poet Yoysef Kerler.

Vivi Lachs is a teacher, historian, Yiddishist, performer, and Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her book Whitechapel Noise: Jewish Immigrant Life in Yiddish Song and Verse, London 1884-1914 was published by Wayne State University Press in May 2018. She sings Yiddish pop songs with the bands Klezmer Klub and Katsha’nes, leads the Great Yiddish Parade and runs walking tours of the East End of London. Vivi’s project will be a translation of three writers: Yehudah Itamar Liski, Arye Mayer Kaizer and Katie Brown, who wrote short stories about London life in the 1930s and 40s. With narrative, satire and humor, the stories cover political, religious, and social mores within the East-End community.

Zeke Levine is a doctoral student in historical musicology at New York University. His research focuses on the intersection of Jewish musical styles and American folk music styles in mid-20th century America. He has studied Yiddish at the University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, and the Yiddish Book Center, where he also worked for a year as a fellow. Zeke has translated several poems and short stories. He is translating work by the radical humorist Sam Liptzin, who wrote short stories, poems, plays, and songs throughout the 20th century. 

Julian Levinson is the Samuel Shetzer Professor of American Jewish Studies at the University of Michigan. His research explores the ways Jews have reinvented their cultural identities and in dialogue with prevailing American literary and religious traditions. In his first book, Exiles on Main Street: Jewish American Writers and American Literary Culture (Indiana University Press; winner of the National Jewish Book Award for American Jewish Studies, 2008), he focuses on the ways Jews have drawn on the classic American literary tradition, specifically Transcendentalism, in the creation of a distinctly Jewish-American literary idiom. He is currently completing a second book on transformations of Jewish identity in the context of American Protestant bibliocentrism. He has published widely on Yiddish literary culture, including Yiddish responses to Walt Whitman and the work of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern in the context of international literary modernism. His translations of poems by Halpern, Aron-Glanz Leyeles, Reuben Ludwig, and Chaim Grade have appeared in Tikkun, Jewish Currents, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and In Geveb. This year Julian will be translating the autobiographical novel by Isaiah Spiegel (1906-1991) entitled Flamen fun der erd (Flames from the Earth).

Julia Fermentto-Tzaisler is an Israeli writer, 2016 Recipient of the Minister of Culture Award for Young Emerging Writers. She's also a PhD candidate at UC San Diego, researching early 20th century Jewish-American literature written in Yiddish. This year she will be translating “The Kosher Meat Strike,” a play by Morris Winchevsky. The play offers a fascinating interpretation to a Jewish social protest that, in Winchevsky’s view, defined Jewishness in modernity on the verge of immigration from Czarist Russia to the United States.

William Gertz Runyan recently completed a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan and is currently teaching Yiddish language at U-M’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. He will be translating a selection of Bucharest-infused poems by Yankev Shternberg, a towering Yiddish cultural figure—poet, playwright, director—in interwar Romania.

Miriam Udel is associate professor of German Studies and Jewish Studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She holds an AB in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, as well as a PhD in Comparative Literature from the same institution. She is the author of Never Better! : The Modern Jewish Picaresque (University of Michigan Press, 2016), winner of a National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. More recently, she has turned to studying and translating Yiddish children’s literature. As part of the inaugural class of Translation Fellows, she began work on an anthology of stories and poems for juvenile readers called Honey on the Page, slated to appear with New York University Press in October 2020. That work led her to this year’s project: translating Khaver Paver’s linked stories about Labzik and Vovik, two generations of winsome canines and the progressive Brownsville family that adopts them.

"What can I say? I felt encouraged, spurred on, supported and part of a community of wonderful, brilliant people."
A former translation fellow